Oskaloosa Pioneers in 1899 came to Oskaloosa from far and wide on horseback and in covered wagons to exchange tales and reminisce about the settling of Jefferson County.
Two years later, the amicable gathering became known as the Old Settlers' Reunion. The tradition continues this weekend.
For the 101st time, Jefferson County natives from across the country will flood this town of about 1,000 people to play games, enjoy musical entertainment, socialize over ice cream and remember what it was like to grow up here.
The festivities were under way Thursday evening and will wrap up Sunday afternoon.
The event's founders more than 100 years ago convened because they thought it would be nice to have people come and get together and reminisce about all the trials and tribulations and successes it took to build this part of the country," said Cathy Dailey, a reunion committee member.
Today, folks plan their vacations around the weekend of festivities, which this year has been expanded to four days instead of three, Dailey said.
The buzz about town this year has revolved around one particular Oskaloosa native who will return for the reunion. Actor James Reynolds, who plays Abe Carver on the NBC soap opera "Days of Our Lives," will stage a performance of "Words of Love" with co-star Valerie Wildman, who plays Faye Walker on the show. The play will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at Oskaloosa Middle School. Admission is $15, and proceeds will benefit Jefferson County Health Department's Senior Personal Care Services.
"We're pretty lucky to have him come and want to do that for us," said Rynette Reiling, co-chairwoman of the reunion committee.
Other events will include carnival rides, a pancake feed, a parade, turtle and frog races, a hot-rod show, an outhouse race and a wine auction.
At 2 p.m. Saturday at Reynolds General Store in Old Jefferson Town, attendees can listen to "old timer" interviews and storytelling about years gone by in Jefferson County. Antique appraisals will be conducted from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the museum building. Visitors can bring up to three items for appraisal at no charge.
The theme of this year's reunion, "New century, old memories: The best is yet to come," is reflected in downtown store windows, where merchants competing in a window contest have placed photographs of reunions that took in the early 1900s, Reiling said.
"It's been neat to see exactly how it really started," she said.